by At that same time there was a woman in England called Alice Perrers. She was a shameless, impudent harlot, and of low birth, for she was the daughter of a thatcher from the town of Henny, elevated by fortune. She was not attractive or beautiful, but knew how to compensate for these defects with the seductiveness of her voice. Blind fortune elevated this woman to such heights and promoted her to a greater intimacy with the king than was proper, since she had been the maidservant and mistress of a man of Lombardy, and accustomed to carry water on her own shoulders from the mill-stream for the everyday needs of that household. And while the queen was still alive, the king loved this woman more than he loved the queen.1 Thomas of Walsingham, the St. Albans chronicler whose Chronica maiora is such a fundamental source for the political history of England in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, incorporated into his work a series of vivid vignettes about Alice Perrers, the mistress of Edward III.2 Walsingham clearly abhorred Alice. She was an ambitious woman who overcame the disabilities of origin and gender to become one of
The Chaucer Review – Penn State University Press
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